Project summary

This project involves designing and facilitating peer-to-peer learning to enhance understanding and practice of climate change adaptation and resilience at the national and municipal levels. The work includes analysis and knowledge sharing of resilience building for two main adaptation challenges, floods and droughts, with a focus on eThekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay.


Climate change poses an increasing risk to cities as hubs of social and economic activity. In recent years, this has been observed in the aftermath of extreme weather events resulting in the loss of human lives, damage of ecosystems, infrastructure and economic losses. This has highlighted the inability of cities to effectively respond to these shocks. Climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ is most likely to display more severe impacts when climatic events interact with other social, economic and environmental pressures, overburdening already strained urban systems. It has also become evident that those who have contributed least to climate change are most likely to be adversely affected by its impacts. These disruptions can cause severe setbacks in the growth and development of any country, particularly so for an emerging economy such as South Africa.

In responding to the collective effort demanded by climate change, the European Union (EU) (within the scope of the EU Climate Dialogues Programme), in partnership with the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) has engaged GroundTruth and partners to design and facilitate peer-to-peer learning for cities across South Africa and the EU. The aim of this series of engagements is to provide a knowledge sharing, learning and support platform to better advance efforts through the various tiers of government. It is envisaged that outcomes of this engagement will support the PCC efforts in: building climate resilience and adaptive capacity in responding to risk and vulnerability; promoting the integration of adaptation response into development objectives, policy, planning and implementation; improving the understanding of climate change impacts and overall response capacity; and ensuring appropriate resources and systems are in place to effectively respond to climate change.

Having led the development of the climate-resilient development pathways guidance for the PCC, researchers at UCT are inputting to the design and development of the learning journey and associated materials on building resilience to floods and drought in eThekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay through a pathways approach.

Key activities & outputs

The project involves designing and convening hybrid knowledge exchanges for two adaptation challenges (floods and droughts) at the local level and a third exchange to bring in international actors on the joint subject of the two adaptation challenges. The knowledge exchanges will be facilitated on the basis of existing case studies from Europe and South Africa, followed by a comprehensive report of recommendations on the subject of building resilience to droughts and floods at the end of the exchange process.

A background paper and learning materials will be prepared as inputs to the exchanges, to enhance the understanding of climate adaptation and resilience at the national and sub-national (municipal) level in key South African cities and towns regarding the Just Urban Transition (JUT). The materials and exchanges are designed to build intra-municipality alliances as well as partnerships around the JUT in and between South Africa and EU countries.

Project team

Dr Anna Taylor (ACDI)

Alice McClure (UCT’s Climate System Analysis Group)

Project partners


Presidential Climate Commission

Project funding

The work is financially supported by the European Union via the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH under the European Union Climate Dialogues (EUCD) project.